Home health care is professional medical and non-medical care delivered in the home (home refers to a private residence, an assisted living facility, or a group home) to assist ill, injured, or disabled seniors or adults remain safely at home for as long as possible. As the population ages, and the numbers of Baby Boomers age 85 and older increases, it is likely that there will be a growing need for long-term care, including home health care. In this article, the role of social work in home health care is reviewed as it is impacted by sources of payment and demographic characteristics of home care users. Social work assessment and intervention in home health care is also discussed with a focus on effective referral practices.
Mary Raymer and Dona J. Reese
Hospice social workers are essential members of the interdisciplinary team that provide biopsychosocial and spiritual care to terminally ill patients and their significant others during the last 6 months of life. Hospice philosophy emphasizes symptom control, quality of life, patient self-determination, and death with dignity. Hospice social workers must be skilled in providing evidence-based interventions including direct client services; collaboration with the interdisciplinary team; community outreach; developing culturally competent services; and advocating for policy change on the organizational, local, and national levels.
Vikki L. Vandiver
Since the mid-1980s, managed care has been one approach used to address the economic crisis in the American health-care system. This entry overviews managed care from the perspective of policy, procedure, practice, and system. Specifically, emphasis is given to understanding the emergence and history of managed care, multiple definitions, how it works, and examples of managed care plans, key legislation, existing research, its future, and implications for social-work practitioners.
Charles L. Robbins
The distribution of illness and its impact are not random occurrences. Social workers can prevent illness through education and behavioral change as well as mitigate its impact once it does occur, and social workers should be knowledgeable about illness and the health status of the people with whom they work. As advocates for our clients, it is important that we pursue policies and programs that address the inadequacies and injustices in health care. To accomplish this, we must be prepared with the necessary knowledge.
Shaun M. Eack
Mental health research is the study of the causes and correlates of mental health and illness, approaches to improve mental well-being, and the delivery of effective mental health services to those in need. Social workers have been leading researchers in each of these areas of inquiry, and this article provides an overview of the broad field of mental health research, with particular emphasis on the contributions of social work. A biopsychosocial review of research on the correlates of mental health and illness is provided, followed by a synthesis of studies examining pharmacological and psychosocial approaches to improving mental health. Research on mental health services is then presented, with a focus on studies seeking to improve access to quality care and reduce service disparities. Key directions for future mental health research include identifying specific causal predictors of mental illness, improving existing treatments, and disseminating advances to the community.
Marie M. Lauria
Oncology social work is a specialization of social work in health care. Its practitioners provide supportive services and programs, patient navigation, education, research, administration, policy development, and advocacy to address the social, psychological, practical, and spiritual concerns of cancer patients, their families, and caregivers from pre-diagnosis through treatment, survivorship, and end of life care or bereavement. The coming decades will present many challenges and opportunities for oncology social workers in helping patients, families, and caregivers overcome barriers to quality of life and care.
Jennifer L. Magnabosco
Throughout history, measuring outcomes has been a goal and priority in the human services. This entry chronicles the history of outcomes measurement in the human services in the United States and discusses present-day outcome measurement activities as well as trends and some of the key areas for outcomes measurement in several human service domains.
Terry Altilio and Maris Pasquale Doran
Pain is a multidimensional, subjective experience that embodies the complex relationship of body, mind, emotions, and spirit. Assessment begins with the patient’s report and is enhanced by diagnostic tools, skilled inquiry and observation of behavioral, physical, cognitive and emotional responses. Pain may be acute, chronic, intermittent, or persistent and can be related to a chronic condition or progressive life-threatening illness—all of which may lead to significant psychological, spiritual, functional, and socioeconomic consequences. The undertreatment of pain is well documented and ubiquitous, especially in vulnerable populations, including the elderly, infants and children, and ethnic minorities. Inadequate management of pain has been the focus of national and international research and policy and relates to many variables, including the controversy and concerns about the use of opioids which are classified as controlled substances. This classification creates a unique environment of legislative, regulatory, and law enforcement scrutiny most recently exacerbated by the public health focus on the abuse of prescription medications. Pain is a clinical, ethical, policy, and advocacy issue. Advocating for state of the art pain management is a shared responsibility of professionals whose ethical codes include social justice, beneficence, and commitment to vulnerable populations.
Betty J. Kramer
Palliative care seeks to prevent and relieve suffering associated with serious illness for persons of all ages. The philosophical underpinnings of palliative care and the core elements of palliative care programs are described. The history of the hospice and palliative care movement, distinctions between hospice and palliative care programs and the roles and functions of social work in palliative care are reviewed. Contemporary issues that present challenges to the field that concerns the scope, focus, and intent of palliative care, the educational gaps in training of health-care professionals, the absence of a single social work leadership organization with a focus on palliative care, and the need to improve the quality and quantity of social work research are discussed.
Enola Proctor and J. Curtis McMillen
Assessing and improving the quality of social services is one of the most pressing concerns for social work practice and research. Practice in nearly every setting is affected by stakeholder expectations that agencies monitor and improve quality. This entry addresses the meaning of the phrase “quality of care” with respect to social work services, considers this topic in relation to quality improvement, quality assurance, and evaluation of services, and points to the research that is needed in order to assess and improve quality.